How To Improve Motivation And Achieve Learning Outcomes
Gamification and game-based learning encourage collaboration and competition amongst learners, which has tremendous potential value for your organization! Games give your learners the opportunity to meet colleagues and bond over shared experiences. They also “break up” a learning experience, giving your learners a different way of engaging with content. Games are a great way to spice up a blended learning experience.
If you’re wondering how you could afford to roll out games for your learners, fear not. There are a lot of ways to engage students without breaking the bank. We recently discussed this topic in a webinar called Memes & Scavenger Hunts: Ten Ways to Improve Your L&D Program on a Budget.
Have learners complete puzzles or create memes as part of a class activity. Ask them to write blog posts or Slack entries to share with the rest of the class or design a scavenger hunt that employees can complete in the office. (More on that later.) Completed tasks can earn points, badges, trophies, and other rewards within your Learning Management System.
Here are 5 tips to make game-based learning as effective as possible, both for the learners and your organization.
1. Games Should Be Challenging But Fair
Designing game-based learning requires finesse. Game players should be encouraged to practice and master skills that are incrementally more challenging. A good example of this is Pokémon Go, which keeps learners challenged enough to remain interested, without being so difficult that the game becomes frustrating. Take a look at this article to find out how Pokémon Go is able to maintain this fragile balance.
When using games within your company, take steps to make sure competition remains friendly and productive. How? When assigning point values and scores to different game elements, consider the learners’ skills. Provide scoring that is customized to different learner groups. There’s a saying, “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb trees or ride bicycles, all fish look stupid.” Apply this thinking to your gamification metrics. Let individual learners earn points or badges based on their interests and job descriptions. If you score a sales representative and a technology support specialist on their IT skills, the specialist will have an unfair advantage. Assign each learner a relevant, tailored system of guidelines and criteria for participation.
2. Make Sure Rewards Are Desirable To The Learner
Sweepstakes are random but predicated on probability. The more tickets you buy, the better your chances of winning. If you want to effectively repurpose sweepstakes for corporate training, swap tickets for points. The more points learners score, the better their chances of winning a prize. As discussed in this webinar on social learning and gamification, prizes need to be something that your employees want. (When in doubt, ask them what they would consider a good prize.) Gift cards and paid time off tend to be popular rewards in corporate training environments.
You can also allow employees to “purchase” one of several rewards using their points. For example, you could allow employees with 500 points to rent a VIP parking spot for the next quarter on a first-come, first-served basis.
3. Motivate Learners To Actively Explore
Scavenger hunts are fun. Even adults love hiding (and finding) Easter eggs. We do it in the yard, but we do it in movies and music videos too. In corporate training, we can use scavenger hunts to actively engage learners and get them to explore a physical or virtual environment. For example, you could ask learners to find the fire extinguisher or printer on their floor. Have them take a photo with the object or, even better, have the learner scan a QR code on the object to receive credit for finding it.
4. Encourage Learners To Be Creative
We all love memes. They’re good for a laugh, but like tweets, they’re also a great medium for delivering a concise, focused message. Need a quick creative activity for your learners? Ask them to create a meme that expresses their feelings or opinion about a topic you’re discussing in class. And then have them write a short paper that expands on the sentiment expressed in the meme. (There are lots of free meme generators available online. You can also find free word cloud generators.)
We as instructors can use memes to add amusement to our course content. Of course, select them carefully. They should entertain and motivate, not offend or distract.
5. Focus On Performance Behaviors
We use points, badges, and other gamification techniques because we want to encourage employees to learn. We want learning to result in increased productivity, better work habits, and other positive outcomes for both the employee and the organization.
For example, let’s say the sales of your company’s new product line are a bit shaky. You’ve surveyed your sales representatives and found that they need help memorizing features and details related to the new products. You could design a scavenger hunt that requires sales representatives to search for and identify products that satisfy certain use cases.
When used correctly, gameplay leads to more learner engagement and better overall retention of new skills. But how can you be sure you’re “doing it right,” promoting real development, and achieving your training goals? Use these best practices as the basis for gamification strategies and rewards. Make sure competition is fair and rewards are of value to learners. The key is to get online learners actively involved so that they are able to achieve desired outcomes and performance behaviors. And, not be so swept up in the fun and games that they lose all sight of the objectives.
A Learning Management System (LMS) with gamification features can help you motivate employees by offering badges, points, and other rewards. Adobe’s LMS, Captivate Prime, also allows you to track and report on gamification initiatives in real-time to spot areas for improvement and offer ongoing support.